18 Nov 2012

Irish abortion march draws thousands

6:03 pm on 18 November 2012

Up to 10,000 people marched through the Irish capital Dublin in memory of an Indian woman who died of blood poisoning after being denied an abortion.

The marchers held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city and held a candlelit vigil outside the office of Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny.

Mrs Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, died on 28 October after being hospitalised in Dublin while suffering a miscarriage.

Her death was made public by her husband this week because doctors had refused her requests to remove the fetus until its heartbeat stopped, four days after her hospitalisation.

AAP reports the case illustrates confusion over the abortion law in Ireland where the practice is outlawed in the constitution.

A 1992 Supreme Court ruling decreed that abortions should be legal to save the life of the woman, including if she makes credible threats to commit suicide if denied one.

But successive governments have refused to pass legislation spelling out the rules governing that general principle, leaving the decision up to individual doctors in an environment of secrecy.

Mrs Halappanavar's death has also triggered anger and protests in India.